Monday, July 26, 2010

Braided Raspberry Bread

I stumbled upon this recipe again recently and realized it would be an excellent way to use up some of the raspberry curd sitting in my fridge (and I had all of the other ingredients on hand!). The original calls for lemon curd. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand. This isn't a quick recipe. It requires a fair amount of dough resting ... the perfect amount of time to do one yoga workout and find some time to do a little surfing online or read a novel.

I don't normally take photos of what I cook. Mostly because I don't have the patience to deal with the poor lighting in my apartment for photographing food and I have a bad habit of manipulating images until they look good, which delays posts. These pictures, however, are not pretty, but I promised a friend I would take pictures if I made this. In the first picture, before it goes in the oven, you can see I need to work on my rolling skills.
I seem to be incapable of rolling things out thinly (I'm going to blame my rolling pin), so the filling was too much for the bread. As I braided, filling came spilling out the sides (you'll also note my braids didn't exactly reach the other side at the beginning). This problem is easily corrected, however, with a spoon. Mmmm, cream cheese and raspberry curd.

Thanks to my sub-par braiding, some of the braids came apart while baking, resulting in a less than attractive bread as seen below:
Oddly enough, the part that I thought looked the worst prior to going in the oven, held its shape the best after baking. Regardless, of the looks, this was delicious. I think it's certainly worth trying again and hopefully the next time around, it will look a little better. Practice makes perfect, right?

Braided Raspberry Bread (adapted from SmittenKitchen)

6 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 ounce) unbleached all-purpose flour

Sponge (above)
6 tablespoons sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, 1 beaten for dough, 1 beaten with 1 teaspoon water for brushing bread
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Raspberry cream cheese filling
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup raspberry curd

1. Make sponge: In a small bowl, combine the sponge ingredients. Stir well to combine, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to proof for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Make dough in a stand mixer: Combine the sponge, sour cream, butter, egg, sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour and mix with the paddle attachment until the dough is a rough, shaggy mass.
3. Switch to the dough hook and knead on until a soft, smooth dough forms, about 5 to 6 minutes.
4. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until quite puffy and nearly doubled.
5. Make the filling (while dough rises): Combine all the filling ingredients (except the raspberry curd) in a small bowl, mixing until smooth and lump-free. Reserve the filling and lemon curd until ready to fill the braids.
6. Prepare bread: Gently deflate the dough and roll it out on a very well floured counter to a 10″ x 15″ rectangle. Transfer rectangle to a large piece of parchment paper. (I rolled it out on the paper.)
7. With the side of your hand, lightly press two lines down the dough lengthwise, dividing it into three equal columns. Spread the cream cheese filling down the center section, leaving the top and bottom two inches free of filling.
8. Spread the lemon curd over the cream cheese filling.
9. To form the mock braid, cut crosswise strips one inch apart down the length of the outer columns of you dough (the parts without filling). Make sure you have an equal amount of 1-inch strips down the right and left sides. Be careful not to cut your parchment paper.
10. To “braid”, begin by folding top flap down and bottom flap up over the filling. Lift the top dough strip and gently bring it diagonally across the filling. Repeat on the right side, and continue down the entire braid, alternating strips until you are out. You can tuck the last couple that hang off decoratively under the end of the braid.
11. Carefully transfer the dough and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic and set it aside to rise for 45 to 50 minutes, until quite puffy.
12. Bake bread: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the loaves with egg wash. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

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